When I was in grade school, I intentionally did not spend all my allowance so that by Saturday, I could go to the neighborhood mini-mart and buy my own shampoo and a stack of songhits.

When I was in high school, I’d earn extra money by painting on shirts for my aunt’s business and designing greeting cards for Goodwill bookstore.

When I was in college, I wrote part-time for the paper and used my earnings to buy lots and lots of cassette tapes and t-shirts.

While my mom, my grand uncle and my aunt sent me to school and provided most of my basic needs for a big chunk of my life, I also did provide a lot of things for myself ever since I was small and was already capable – and I did it the clean, hard way. And I am very proud of this. I think I am a self-made man, which explains my stand on a lot of issues such as money, work and possessions.

Just like everyone else, I experience some financial instability from time to time. I spend more than I earn. I fail to save. I forget to budget. I blow money on stupid purchases. When I look on the brighter side though, I realize that I earn a little more than those my age. More importantly, I not only get to support just myself, I get to support other people as well.

For the longest time, I have been financially supporting 5 people and never did I complain, even once. Even after realizing that more than half my salary goes to them, I did not consider myself shortchanged or cheated or a martyr.

Thing is, I find great fulfillment in helping others, my loved ones in particular. They always remind me of how successful I have become and how I need to give back, how I need to pay it forward and just continue the chain of benevolence they started.

There was a time when I quit a full time job and it broke my heart how I couldn’t give them the regular financial help I’ve been giving them every payday. They told me they understood. They didn’t ask for help no matter how much they needed it. I felt miserable.

It was my uncle and my cousin’s birthday party yesterday and I brought some food. Since I’m cheap, I brought them 2 packs of puto and 2 rolls of cake from Goldilocks. And everyone enjoyed it, from my cousin’s 1-year old daughter to my grandma. I told myself, OMG, what more if I brought a humongous cake from Conti’s or even just Banoffee from Red Ribbon? I felt a tinge of guilt and this huge surge of power. The kind that can make others happy.

After that, I gave 4 people some money. Two said thanks, one did not, and one tried to return it, concerned that I didn’t have any more for myself. I actually saved more for myself so I didn’t mind. But even if I didn’t have any more for myself, I wouldn’t think twice giving them my last centavo.

When I got home, Honeybun and I watched some “Showbiz Central.” In one segment, a teary-eyed Ruffa Mae Quinto explained that the only reason why she entered the business was because she wanted to help her family. I loved her even more when I heard her say that.

So now I want to be an artista na. LOL.